This is going to be a little "ranty" but I have no intention of causing more discord! I only ask that you to take a break from the doctrines of man (those things we are so sure God has called us to, come hell or high water) and with an open mind, consider what I'm saying...
I'm sick and tired of The Church being called to battle over ideas, movements and "bandwagon" agenda's...
We've got the super hot button topic of "traditional marriage". Number two is probably "save the animals". Coming at number three is "stop abortion" (which honestly, if I was going to pick what should be at the top of the list - human life would certainly win, just say'n).
The list goes on and if I didn't hit your hot button, it wasn't intentional (no need to straighten me out).
CHRISTIAN! If there is anything we have been "called to", anything the bible tells to "be about"... Here's a couple of things Jesus seemed to feel pretty strongly about:
Matthew 22:36-40 "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?" 37 And He said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets."
Matthew 28:18-20 And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age."
Seems to me that it becomes almost impossible to "love" when we are disgusted and distracted by certain behavior. And if we can't "love" from a genuine heart, we most certainly won't care enough to introduce our "enemy" to the greatest of lovers!
A lover who has loved each and every one of us since before the foundation of time and creation. A lover who so willingly laid down His life for the rescue of all men (straight, gay, flesh eater, garden grazer, dog lover, cat hater, tattooed, body pierced, unwed mother, drug user, alcohol abuser, professional business man, adulterer - insert your pet peeve, you know, the one you can't stand and don't care whether or not ever finds peace with God...).
I'm not sure how to land this plane but I am sure that what we (Christians) are known for is most certainly not our "love of our fellow man"! What we hate is what we strive to legislate (while claiming to be led by God), I'm convinced that the motivation is not God driven but birthed by our own disgust and/or prejudices...
Each one of us has come "from" some lifestyle that was contrary to God's heart for us, but came we did and we found great love and unhindered acceptance - we must never forget this!
I will close with a few more words from our sponsor...
25-26 Abruptly Jesus broke into prayer: “Thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth. You’ve concealed Your ways from sophisticates and know-it-alls, but spelled them out clearly to ordinary people. Yes, Father, that’s the way You like to work.”
27 Jesus resumed talking to the people, but now tenderly. “The Father has given Me all these things to do and say. This is a unique Father-Son operation, coming out of Father and Son intimacies and knowledge. No one knows the Son the way the Father does, nor the Father the way the Son does. But I’m not keeping it to myself; I’m ready to go over it line by line with anyone willing to listen.
28-30 “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to Me. Get away with Me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with Me and work with Me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with Me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
His Grace Is Enough!
17 This was to fulfill what was declared by the prophet Isaiah when he said,
18 "Here is My Servant whom I have chosen, whom I love, and with whom I am pleased! I will put My Spirit on Him, and He will proclaim justice to the gentiles.
19 He will not quarrel or shout, and no one will hear Him shouting in the streets.
20 He will not snap off a broken reed or snuff out a smoldering wick until He has brought justice through to victory.
21 And in His name the gentiles will hope."
God's idea of "justice" is to do right for others not "getting" the bad guy!
Isaiah describes God's justice as the establishment of peace, thus the imagery of carnivores and herbivores, man and beast living together in harmony and mutual submission...
4 ...with righteousness He shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; and He shall strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips He shall kill the wicked.
5 Righteousness shall be the belt of His waist, and faithfulness the belt of His loins.
6 The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them.
7 The cow and the bear shall graze; their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
8 The nursing child shall play over the hole of the cobra, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder's den.
9 They shall not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.
10 In that day the root of Jesse, who shall stand as a signal for the peoples—of Him shall the nations inquire, and His resting place shall be glorious.
The most common view of salvation (not just within the Church but throughout society) is "penal substitution".
What is "penal substitution"!?!?
Penal substitution is the idea that Christ, by His own sacrificial choice, was punished (penalised) in the place of sinners (substitution), thus satisfying the demands of justice so that a holy and just God can justly forgive the sins of humanity - substitutionary punishment.
"Substitutionary punishment" - Christ died on the cross as a substitute for sinners. God imputed (which is to unjustly lay the responsibility or blame) our sins to Christ and He, in our place, bore the punishment that we deserve. This was a full payment for sins, which satisfied both the wrath and the righteousness of God, so that He could forgive sinners without compromising His own holy standard setting "the believer" free from the demands of the Law...
The problem with this theory of penal/substitution is two-fold:
Firstly, "the demands of The Law" were only upon the nation of Israel. The rest of humanity was never called to live by The Law, never even introduced to it!
Secondly, this "retributive" view of the atonement, sucks the heroism and justice out of Christ's work... It's a perverted view of God's heart and His beautiful intention for humanity. It says that "God needed to kill someone from within the group in order to satisfy His blood-thirst which in turn allowed Him to forgive the whole!"
This theory of "substitutionary punishment", presents God as an aggressor with a "hero" complex. But nothing could be further from the truth!
GOD IS THE HERO WHO RESCUED US FROM DEATH BY FACING DEATH HEAD-ON!
IN DYING, THE HERO FACED DEATH AND BEAT IT DOWN!
IN DYING, THE HERO PUT "DEATH" TO DEATH!
IN DYING, THE HERO LOVINGLY & WILLINGLY LAID DOWN HIS OWN LIFE THAT HUMANITY MIGHT LIVE!
This is not a picture of a villain coming to do us great harm only to be thwarted by "himself"... No, The Hero forever established justice in the earth by crushing, utterly destroying, the power and presence of sin; rescuing us from that which held us captive and was destroying our lives and the world around us!
If we miss this, we are left with a very anemic view of the cross - a view that has nothing to do with God and His intentions for us!
God's heart has always been for us and the cross is not meant to be viewed as a battle scene where He was wrestling with Himself... loving us, yet hating us; unsure of which emotion would win out but thanks be to our big brother for taking the death-blow for us - giving God an out.
The cross is but one moment in an epic love story. The cross represents the kicking in of the door behind which humanity lay hostage!
The cross reveals our value, not our judgement; God's love for us, not His hatred toward us. The cross sets the stage for the biggest moment in the story... The Resurrection unto new life! 1Corinthians 15:14 ...and if the Messiah has not been raised, then our message means nothing and your faith means nothing.
Sadly, the cross is the biggest topic of Christianity. We debate how prevelant it's image should be in our buildings (should it be centered on the stage? should it be on the face of our building - if so, how big?) We insist that the "hard-core" Christians are the ones who boldly wear it on thier clothing, display on thier car or tattoo it on their forearm, etc. etc. But we only speak about the resurrection at Easter.
This over-emphasizing of the cross while occasionally toying with the resurrection, has removed "grace" from the forefront of our message! The belief is that if the cross be lifted up then all men will come to God in repentance. But the bible says something entirely different - John 12:27-32
27 "Now is My soul troubled. And what shall I say? 'Father, save Me from this hour'? But for this purpose I have come to this hour.
28 Father, glorify Your name." Then a voice came from heaven: "I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again."
29 The crowd that stood there and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, "An angel has spoken to Him."
30 Jesus answered, "This voice has come for your sake, not Mine.
31 Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out.
32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to Myself."
If we would spend the greater amount of our time and energy speaking about our "inclusion" within Jesus' ressurection and less time trying to scare the hell out of the people God loves by wrongly glorifying the cross, we would see more walk in the fullness of God's love!
The cross is the picture of the moment of rescue whereas the resurrection is the picture of the happy ending!
4 ...it is not possible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.
5 So when Christ came into the world He said, "You don't want sacrifices and offerings, but you have prepared a body for Me.
6 You are not pleased with the sacrifices of animals killed and burned or with offerings to take away sins.
7 Then I said, 'Here I am, God. It is written about me in the book of the law. I have come to do what you want.'"
8 Christ first said, "You don't want sacrifices and offerings. You are not pleased with animals killed and burned or with sacrifices to take away sin." (These are all sacrifices that the law commands.)
9 Then he said, "Here I am, God. I have come to do what you want." So God ends that first system of sacrifices and starts his new way.
10 Jesus Christ did the things God wanted him to do. And because of that, we are made holy through the sacrifice of Christ's body. Christ made that sacrifice one time—enough for all time.
His Grace Is Enough!
I've heard and used this phrase many, many times in my life but this morning (as heard it again) I was struck with the fact that we use this term when blaming God for strange things or happenings. When was the last time (if ever) that I used the term when actually realzing the humor of God? Do I even know what God finds humorous? DOES GOD HAVE A SENSE OF HUMOR?
Are you struggleing with simply resting in God?
Are you confused, feeling like you've missed His plan?
Are you anxious, afraid you're not doing enough?
As we grow in grace, each of us will need to deal with the habits and false beliefs about "God's will"... The problem begins with the idea that "God must have something more for me to do!" - as if the very thing we are currently doing couldn't possibly be right and/or enough...
Since being freed to grace, I have come to understand that what He wants for us is simply to enjoy Him, to enjoy the life we have and to revel in the hope we share!
Now that doesn't mean He's not speaking to us about His dreams (no different then how best friends or families share together in the journey of life).
The "struggle" you may be experiencing is not unique and Papa is OK with it; He has great dreams which include you and He wants to share these with you. Quit trying so hard to hear and just listen...
The "confusion" is brought on by the lie of the enemy who is feeding on your frustration as he whispers in your ear "you can't hear Him anymore because you're not doing it right!"
As we share in God's dreams, He guides us according to His will - which is not like a well laid out road map... Instead, it’s the experience of relationship!
The goal is not discovering "What is God’s will for my life?" but walking in God’s will on a moment-by-moment, day-by-day basis.
The will of God is that all people hear, receive, embrace and respond to the gospel of His grace...
So, the "right path" is walking in that which brings peace, if where you are walking is causing strife, struggle or burden... that is evidence you are not walking in His will. And let me add, just because you don't have peace does not necessarily mean that where are going is wrong. It could simply be that in your striving to find "His will" you have lost sight of His delight!
We have all been trained to say and believe that "I need more of Him". The problem with this mindset is that we actually become distracted from Him by all the "doing" to find Him!
It's about so much more than "needing Him", it's being with Him and He being with you that produces life. Healthy relationships aren't built on need but on mutual delight. When we build our relationship with God on "want" verses "need" we walk in the strongest sense of peace.
Am I saying that we can just do whatever we want and it's OK? Yes! But I am certain that as we walk with Him and He with us, His "wants" become our "wants". The lie which says that everything on earth is "not of God" and in order to please Him we must live from Heaven's perspective has crippled the Christian!
Here's the good news! Heaven took up residence in man and we are free to live!
Go ahead, trust!
Trust that Heaven is for you.
Trust that Papa's dreams include you.
Trust that the Holy Spirit is producing character within you that is very pleasing to God.
Go ahead, love God and do what you want - it's OK!
His Grace Is Enough!
Everything love does is for the advantage of another!
22 And the Lord God said, Now the man has become like one of Us, having knowledge of good and evil; and now if he puts out his hand and takes of the fruit of the tree of life, he will go on living for ever.
23 So the Lord God sent him out of the garden of Eden to be a worker on the earth from which he was taken.
We have been lied to!
This decision of God to remove us from the garden was not an act of wrath but of compassion and mercy... That's right, COMPASSION & MERCY!
After Adam & Eve ate of the forbidden fruit, they went into hiding - ashamed, scared, deceived...
But God never changed His mind towards man. In fact, it was His intense love for man that moved Him to this merciful act!
You see, had Adam & Eve reached out and consumed the fruit of the other tree (the tree of life), man would have entered into an eternal existence of separation and fear. Man would have been forever stuck in a post sin state.
Each and every one of us would have been born "irredeemable", doomed to an endless existence of separation and fear! Forever wondering the earth while trapped in a fallen state...
But God in His mercy, allowed death to enter in to man's experience and with this incredible act of compassion, He provided the way of escape.
Man was rescued, not hated... Death was the "provision" of God for escape from the prison of eternal fear...
But wait! There's more!
Death is now a defeated foe!
Death no longer reigns!
Death has no more sting!
Death has no more authority!
Death is dead!
50 Now I say this, my brothers, that it is not possible for flesh and blood to have a part in the kingdom of God; and death may not have a part in life.
51 See, I am giving you the revelation of a secret: we will not all come to the sleep of death, but we will all be changed.
52 In a second, in the shutting of an eye, at the sound of the last horn: for at that sound the dead will come again, free for ever from the power of death, and we will be changed.
53 For this body which comes to destruction will be made free from the power of death, and the man who is under the power of death will put on eternal life.
54 But when this has taken place, then that which was said in the Writings will come true, Death is overcome by life.
55 O death, where is your power? O death, where are your pains?
56 The pain of death is sin; and the power of sin is the law:
57 But praise be to God who gives us strength to overcome through our Lord Jesus Christ.
In Christ's death and with His resurrection, God has terminated the termination!
Death was never to be part of man's experience and since the success of the cross, Papa's desire for eternal connection not eternal separation is restored!
DEATH IS DEAD, HALLELUJAH!
His Grace Is Enough
"Come On Man! Are You Even Saved?"
Are you tormented by this question and the thought of spending eternity in hell?
Do you fret as to wether or not God really does love you?
Are you diligently climbing back onto that "performance treadmill" - day in, day out?
Do you fear the day of death?
Are you exhausted with all your striving; wishing it would end?
God's not mad at you! He hasn't required anything of you!
He has done everything necessary to bring you home and into the safety of rest!
In and through Christ, God has shown us the reality of His love for us!
2 Corinthians 5:19-21
19 ...for through the Messiah, God was reconciling the world to Himself by not counting their sins against them. He has committed His message of reconciliation to us.
20 Therefore, we are the Messiah's representatives, as though God were pleading through us. We plead on the Messiah's behalf: "Be reconciled to God!"
21 God made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that God's righteousness would be produced in us.
His Grace Is Enough!
Are you "serving" God simply because you fear the resultant consequences of not "serving"?
If this is the relationship you have with God, it is no where near the relationship God desires with you! God desires a relationship with you that is based on genuine love and mutual admiration - yes, mutual...God wants you, He's not mad at you (never has been).
YOU WILL NEVER "SERVE" GOD ENOUGH TO RELIEVE THE FEAR AND GUILT WHICH DRIVES YOU TO PERFORMANCE!
God accepts you right here, right now. In fact, He accepted you before your physical existence :-)
The relationship which He invites you in to, one of peace and intimacy, is free from all performance! The God-head already performed on our behave...Jesus satisfied the Law and reconciled man to God on the cross - it (all work needed to please God) is finished!
Your attempt at "pleasing" God only serves to frustrate the matter. You can write another rule for yourself, keep upping the ante until you're "all in" but you will still be left confused and your "relationship" will remain cold, dead and emotionless... Slavery will be your existence never relationship!
Since the "fall" man has been an enemy with God only in His mind - Col 1:21 At one time you were separated from God. You were His enemies in your minds, and the evil things you did were against God.
Since "creation" man has been loved, wanted and pursued by God - Jn 3:16-17 God loved the world so much that He gave His one and only Son so that whoever believes in Him may not be lost, but have eternal life. 17 God did not send His Son into the world to judge the world guilty, but to save the world through Him.
Since the "cross" man has been restored, reconciled and invited to the bliss of intimacy - Mat 28-30 Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to Me. Get away with Me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with Me and work with Me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with Me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.
His Grace is Enough,
With all the controversy surrounding the message of "pure grace" I find myself quite excited about what we are witnessing as the result of this crazy thing being preached called grace!
His Grace is Enough,
W. Adam Greer
I grew up in Northern California where I lived an extremely selfish life until the age of 29. Through a series of life altering events, I became a follower of Jesus.